Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tributes to John Berkey

I'll keep this updated as best I can.

Easily one of the most gifted illustrators of the 20th Century and an influential giant in the SF art world.

The man who proved that science fiction could be fine art.

Bob Eggleton
Some of my first exposure to fantastical art was from his hand.

Paul Barnett
He was one of the most painterly of sf artists, and managed to convey both splendour and strangeness with a power and sense of wonder that it's hard to describe.

John Picacio

I'm definitely one of the legions who revere his work, which I believe is more influential now than it's ever been.

Eat Our Brains
He was a major influence for both traditional and digital artists.

Jason Bennion
Berkey's work was more impressionistic than realistic, but one of the things it always conveyed was a true sense of mass.

Scott Anderson
Bravura brushstrokes filled with confidence and vitality, whole worlds summoned into being with the most economical means.

Fickr set by Michael Heilemann
Moving Walls
Stainless Steel droppings

John Berkey

John Berkey passed away yesterday.

This is truly heartbreaking. He was one of the first artists I worked with when I came to Tor. Although poor health kept him from much new work over the past many years, his paintings are still as fresh and relevant today as ever. John was honored with Spectrum Grand Master award, Society of Illustrator’s Hall of Fame, and Expose Grand Master. The last is almost ironic, since John was known for never having touched a computer, but then, his influence on today’s digital artists is unmistakable. He was all the more amazing that he was able to create the images he did in physical's as if the art wolrd has just now caught u with him.

“Being fearful of failure or having little confidence just becomes something to climb over.” -- John Berkey

"[John Berkey's] signature style is one of vigorously applied brushstrokes -- never labored -- that in a series of strategically placed dots and dashes, form images so vivid and so credible that they seem to go beyond photographic reality, and yet the artist's hand is always present. We look at these illustrations and know that they are paintings -- they are not photographs -- and, more importantly, that they are art." -- Vincent di Fate’s speech for John’s Society of Illustrator’s Hall of Fame induction. The full essay is reprinted in Illustrators 46.

“There is a type of majesty to his canvases; his cityscape spacecraft have a certain dignity, almost a sense of nobility, not unlike the ailing vessels of a lost age.” -- Arnie Fenner in his Grand Master essay from Spectrum 6

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Three Kennedys. Or, Three Bernie Fuchs.

I've mentioned before that Mark Korsak is putting together a 50 year retrospective of the Society of Illustrators' annual. Seeing Phil's Tony Blair prompted me to ask Mark if he could send me a few of the John F. Kennedy portraits that are in strong consideration for the book, including these three by Bernie Fuchs. (Thanks, Mark. I'm dying to see the second one in color!) Fuchs, of course, belongs in the pantheon with the greatest American illustrators.

Check out David Apatoff's interesting post comparing Fuchs with Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, and Franz Kline. "
Like Motherwell, Rauschenberg and Kline, Fuchs rejected the realistic painting of his predecessors (such as Norman Rockwell) and focused on broader qualities of abstract design and composition."

Stephen Kroninger's recently featured the third painting and other great presidential portraits by Fuchs and Robert Fawcett on his blog.

The Animator

[Via Drawn}

Friday, April 25, 2008

Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell Wallpapers

Free at

This week, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo. Two masterful painters and two of the nicest people I know. And they’ve truly gone the extra mile to give back to illustration by raising three tremendous artists, Dorian Vallejo, Dave Palumbo, and Tony Palumbo.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Phil Hale: From Halo to Prime Minister

[via Duddlebug on CA.]

I’ve often complained that our presidential portraits, since John F. Kennedy, are totally lame. Go, UK! They got Phil Hale for their official former Mr. Prime Minister.

Last Man Standing 3, Round 2

The second round of the third Last Man Standing competition is up and, as one CA member (hi, Nathan) put it, it should be renamed Last Man Stunning. It's a super solid round of entries. I pulled out a few favorites here, but really, it's worth going to to check them all out. (Jason Chan's made me burst out laughing and then feel horrible for having done so.)

For those that don't know what the Last Man Standing is all about I will (because I am lazy, unimaginative, and up past my bedtime) point you to my earlier post here.

TOP GROUP, by the artists' CA names:
Flaptraps, Hurricane, Steve Kim, Howard Lyon

LEFT: Sept13

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cool ComicCon Item I Missed

Liz Gorinsky (awesome Tor editor) scored a copy of Spectra Pulse Mgazine. A new magazine from Bantam that features new stories and art, interviews, articles, and the various things you would expect in a magazine. And, it features a super cool Nic Klein cover.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New York ComicCon

New York Comic Con may only be a fraction of the size of San Diego, bit it's starting to claim some of the energy of it's left coast cousin. And hurray for that.

Tor was showing off some upcoming books and selling current ones. Clearly, loads of people are really excited about Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. It was the buzz of the both. It'll be out next week but the Torites working the booth could have made a handsome dime by auctioning off the one advanced copy we brought. We were, however, able to give away thousands of shinny new buttons, and it's equally clear that the buzz for the new site is getting strong. (Now we need to deliver, don't we.) I'd like to thank Dan Dos Santos for doing a painting demo at the Tor booth. (Pictures in previous post.) It can't be easy to preform in front of thousands of people, but he seemed relaxed and excited to engage the crowd.

I saw lots of great portfolios from pros and students. Artist's Alley seems more vibrant here than to does in SD, where most artist have been pushed into taking full booths. It meant I spent a lot more time there and didn't even realize how much of the rest of the floor I missed until we were breaking down.

But now: I don't mean to get on anyone's case, and I know some of the behavior I am about to describe came from some of my readers so, please take this as constructive criticism, but...

Five Ways Not to Introduce Yourself to an Art Director:

1) Don't give me your postcard and then take it back to cross out your web address because "the work there isn't good."

2) Don't let me flip through half a portfolio and then stop me mid way to say "the rest is older work, you're probably not interested, and it's not good anyway."

3) Don't show me one, and only one, image on an iPhone. In fact, unless you know I am very familiar with your work, don't show me an iPhone portfolio at all.

4) "Hi, my name is XYZ......We're MySpace friends." Followed by silence thinking I'm going to remember you off the top of my head. Hell, I can't remember the names of people I actually meet.

5) 35mm slides!? I didn't even think you could buy slide film anymore.

Guys, you’re at ComicCon. Chances of running into an art director are, well, high. You didn't just happen to run into the ADs for every major gaming, comic, movie, and publishing companies at a neighborhood barbeque, so get your ducks in a row before making that first impression.

Pictures of ComicCon.

Dan Dos Santos Demo at NYCC

Dan Dos Santos was sweet enough to agree to a 90 minute painting demo at the Tor booth on Saturday. He had a nice crowd around him the entire time and, despite deadline induced lack of sleep and, much worse, no Red Bull in his system, Dan created quite a lovely portrait.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Off to NY ComicCon

Not that I’m complaining about being able to hang out with tons of cool people and claim to be “working” but, it figures that I’ll be stuck inside a giant overly air-conditioned box during the first weekend New York can truly call Spring. It reminded me that Steve Erikson, Cam Esslemont, and I came up with the idea for CampCon during a (too) late night of drinking at World Fantasy last year. We want to replace the same ole’ panel discussions with potato-sack races and archery. (Ok, so Steve and Cam were thinking more along the lines of insane free climbs, but compromises can be reached.) We just need to find a summer camp owner up for making a viable bid for World Con....Anyone?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Michael Kaluta at SVA

I crashed a Michael Kaluta lecture Monday night. Donato Giancola was having his SVA class create complex futuristic environments and so he had asked Michael to talk about world building in his picture making. Michael showed some of his comic work and then focused on movie concept drawings. Below are some random thoughts and notes.

  • The thing that struck me the most was, how much his drawing looked like reportage. He is creating vast cities and interiors with such spontaneity and freshness that you would think he is simply reacting to what's in front of him.....but none of these worlds actually existed. His understanding of detail (both when to use it and when not to) and perspective is so dead-accurate that you buy every squiggle as information from an existing object.
  • He talked about the rhythm between information and breathing space. And the repetition of abstract forms to give meaning to those forms. (The difference between a single spear and a forest of spears.)
  • He talked a lot about knowing the back-story to am image, even if the viewer will never know it."Knowing what is going on behind every window" in the image. This became particularly clear while listening to Michael and Donato banter about minute details of Tolkien paintings. Clearly, both of them have a love for world building that is strongly rooted in Tolkien.
  • He talked about illustrating some of the more mundane lines of a story. Focusing on a simple statement gives him the freedom to create the world around that line. „Ignore the line and add a layer."
  • He talked about fetishizing various objects within a painting. „Someone spent time designing that sword, that piece of armor." Keeping items from being too generic adds history to them.
  • He talked a bit about the real world issues facing an illustrator -- diversifying your clients, stretching your abilities, always networking and keeping your connections open.
...and....that's all I can remember at the moment. I was truly inspired to see such a fluid hand and facile imagination let loose on pure concept work without the burden and constraints of trying to sell a novel or comic in one image. He mentioned that he is working on a book that will display some of this work, I forgot to ask when it will be published, but I'll be sure to mention it here when it’s out in the world.

Thanks Michael and Donato for letting me crash the party!

Michael. (I got clearer pictures, but I liked the smile in this one.) One of Micahel's Tolkien paintings. And the eating afterwards: Donato, me, Greg Manchess, Kristina Carroll, and Michael.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dan Dos Santos Demo at NY Comic Con

Dan Dos Santos will be doing a painting demo at NY Comic Con this weekend, at the Tor booth.

This Saturday


Tor Books -- Booth# 1533

But wait, there’s more!

If you stop by the Tor booth at anytime, and sign up for, you will be in the running to win a Asus mini computer. It’s cute as a button -- come on over, we’ll have sign-up cards at the table.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Picturing Artists

We are including artist's photos in their gallery bios. I spent a little time this weekend going through them....leading to thoughts of, "Wow, they are so much younger, older, balder, hairier, cuter, stranger, and more animal loving than I would have guessed." But, sadly, it points out how many more men there are in the business than women.


Shelly Wan, Tiffany Prothero, Brom, Kinuko Craft, Robh Ruppel, Daarken, Jeremy Geddes.


Aleksi Briclot, Raymond Swanland, Garry Lippincott., Thomas Kuebler, Jamie Jones, Steve Hickman, Keith Thompson

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Meet Fiona

It seems that you can't have just one greyhound.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring is Here, I Hear.

I've given up hope that it will ever be sunny and warm in NY.

TorDot Shelly Wan and Scott M. Fischer

This week's wallpaper, courtesy of awesome painters Shelly Wan and Scott M.Fischer.

Yours for the taking at:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

50 Years of the Society of Illos Annual

I had lunch with my friend Mark Korsak yesterday. He's been a hard at work putting together a book that covers 50 years of the Society of Illustrators annual. He showed me all of the images selected to be included. This was one tough job. Thousands of images, already chosen to be the best of their year, had to be whittled down to 500. There is no way for the book to be anything less than great.

I was happy to see sf/f well represented. While I crossed my fingers and hoped to see one, maybe two Tor covers, in the end I think I saw five or six of them. (Not that I was counting.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Today's Mail

I didn't realize they were making the case red. Cool.

Cover progressions here.

Stephan Martiniere in Boston

Earlier, I mentioned that Boskone has asked me to be one of their guests of honor next year....well, now you have a good reason to get to Boston in February -- Stephan Martiniere will be the Artist Guest of Honor. Awesome art, cute French accent -- that’s worth braving a New England winter for, no?

James Gurney at The Society of Illustrators

For anyone in the tri-state area:

James Gurney will be lecturing at the Society of Illustrators this Wednesday night. I’ve seen Jim lecture before, he’s incredibly generous about sharing his process. He is a man that clearly just loves to paint. (Not surprising to anyone following his blog.)

I’ll be there, I know Donato will as well, we’re trying to drag Dan Dos Santos away from his easel -- Come on out and say Hi.

Wednesday, April 9
James Gurney: Dinotopia, Behind The Scenes
Society of Illustrators,
128 East 63rd Street, NY, NY
6:30 - 9:00
$10.00 / $6.00 students

Monday, April 07, 2008

TorDot Meltzoff and Manchess Free wallpapers, and ebooks too!

I should say that I love all my wallpaper’s equally, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being particularly thrilled about offering a Stanley Meltzoff wallpaper this week. Although, I don’t think there is an artist in this program that would blame me. Whether he was illustrating for National Geographic, Life Magazine, or science fiction paperbacks, Meltzoff was truly a master painter. And if you don't think you are into nature paintings, take a look at his underwater seascapes — they are wondrous as anything science fiction has to offer.

I am just as happy to be able to offer Greg ManchessSomething Wicked painting. Like Meltzoff, Greg is an artist whose paintings are as much about the application of paint and mood as they are are about subject matter and composition. I got to live with this painting across from my desk for over a year and I never tired of getting lost in these rhythm of both the figures and the brush strokes. (Too bad for me, the painting was needed for an exhibition and is now back with the artist. I need to see about re-stealing it.)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Antiquarian Book Fair

I meant to "pop in" to the Antiquarian Book Fair for an hour or so -- think we ended up staying nearly three hours. Tons of great artwork to see, not only in print, but originals from Sendak, Potter, Dulac, Detmold (my new favorite after today), Rackham, Shepard, Suess, and many others.

I don't think cameras were allowed so these pictures were all taken petty hastily, and it shows. Still, here are a few fuzzy highlights from the day. Some where old favorites and others are artists I have never heard of.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Erwin Madrid

A number of people have pointed me to Erwin Madrid's site - thank yous to all of thems.

This is so, so sweet.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What day is it?

Spectrum 2009 calendar.

As if we needed another reason to love Adam Rex.

Dracula eating garlic bread.


Looking around my office I have come to realize that, after teleportation, I want my superpower to be unlimited free framing.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Facelifts vol.8

I believe the technical term for the level of busyness around here is, Crazy-Ass. That said, I did get a nice praising type email from John Scalzi today, about the repackage for his Agent to the Stars. So, I thought I'd play show-and-tell.

The honors go to Pascal Blanchet.

And lots of nice comments from John's Whateverists.

The Tor edition will be out in October.

(Note, I'm sure there will be some kind of quote that says how lovely John and/or his book is but I'm, um, well, late in getting to that. So, uh, I guess it's back to work...Hmmm...I'm missing a Tor logo too, errggg.))